Jun 18, 2024  
2022-2023 University Catalog 
2022-2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy (OTD)

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Occupational Therapy (OTD): Admission Requirements

The applicant to the professional program in occupational therapy must have completed or show evidence of the following in order to be considered for admission:

  • Completed application through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application System, or OTCAS.
  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. 
  • Minimum cumulative grade-point average of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale excluding your freshman and sophomore year.
  • If applicant’s native language is not English, submit Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, scores.
  • Prerequisite courses (with a grade of “C” or higher) completed prior to matriculation including statistics, sociology or anthropology, human growth and development (must cover the entire lifespan), abnormal psychology, one additional psychology course, human anatomy (with lab, preferably cadaver) and human physiology (lab preferred). Human anatomy and human physiology must be taken within five years prior to admission to program. Two sequential courses with labs will also satisfy this prerequisite.*
  • Two references from individuals acquainted with the applicant’s academic or professional aptitudes. One reference must be from an occupational therapy practitioner, health care provider, teacher, work, or volunteer supervisor.
  • Experience or familiarity with occupational therapy through observation of occupational therapy practitioners (at least 40 documented hours in at least two settings). In the instance you are unable to shadow at this time, familiarity with OT can also be demonstrated through submitting documentation of successful completion of the online shadowing experience, plus an additional activity (as suggested below) with accompanying reflection paper. The reflection paper should be no longer than pages and should articulate how the experience shaped your understanding of occupational therapy. If you choose to complete the online shadowing, upload documentation of completion as well as your reflection paper on OTCAS.
  1. Online Shadowing ExperiencePassword: LucasQU Please submit the shadowing experience documentation form found on the online shadowing website created by Dr. Cheryl Lucas to OTCAS.

Caretaker Experience: Describe a time when you were a caretaker and how that shaped your understanding of occupational therapy.

Occupation Prerequisite: Take a course (6 week minimum) in which you learn a novel challenging skill (knitting, karate, etc.). Describe the experience and how it shaped your understanding of occupational therapy.

Video Interview: Interview an occupational therapist and write how the experience shaped your understanding of the profession.

Attend a professional association event: The American Occupational Therapy Association or the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity host a number of free events or webinars. Attend an event and write a reflection on how it shaped your understanding of the profession.

*All courses must be taken from an accredited college or university. Online classes are acceptable except for anatomy and physiology, which must occur face-to-face. Exams testing out of course work and AP course work are not acceptable for prerequisite requirements. Note: online courses for anatomy and physiology will be accepted for face-to-face courses that were disrupted due to COVID-19.

The Admissions Committee will make decisions regarding the acceptability of the applicant to the program. All application materials will be evaluated. Academic and nonacademic factors, including extracurricular activities, job and life experiences will be taken into consideration.

Selected applicants will be required to participate in a faculty interview. 

Students accepted into the occupational therapy program must complete a criminal background check. Students who have certain types of information in their criminal background checks may be ineligible to complete fieldwork rotations in specific facilities and may be ineligible for state licensure or national registry or certification.

Students accepted in the occupational therapy program must complete the Rush University required health and immunization history documentation.

Students accepted into the occupational therapy program must submit directly to Rush University prior to matriculation all official transcripts from every college or university attended.

Rush University and the OT program are committed to creating a class environment that mirrors our diverse community and supports access and inclusion among our students.  While all candidates must meet posted minimum admissions criteria, candidates with any of the following factors indicated on their OTCAS application are given additional consideration towards interview and admission to the program, to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis:

Military veterans

Persons from an underrepresented minority group in the health care sciences

Persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds

First person to attend a higher education training program

Recommended graduates from the Rush Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program


Application Deadlines

Admission for the entry entry-level doctorate in Occupational Therapy program is granted for the fall term of each year, which begins early-September. Applications through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service become available mid-July.

Completed applications will begin to be reviewed by the admissions committee beginning Oct. 15. The application deadline is Dec. 1. Interviews will be held during the months of November, December and January. Enrollment is limited to 36 students. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.


Occupational Therapy (OTD): Program Requirements

General Program Requirements

The Rush University OTD program is a full-time program with classes occurring Monday-Friday, however, some evening and weekend hours may be required periodically for the completion of academic and clinical assignments. In these situations, students will be given ample notice to arrange their schedules accordingly. Although most classes are on campus, there are several courses that are online with both asynchronous and synchronous sessions. Technology requirements for those courses and the entire program can be found in the technology section. Collaborative strategies are commonly used in the curriculum which means that students will need to work with their peers outside of scheduled class periods.

Attendance and active participation are important aspects of professional education and critical to professional development. Students are expected to be present for all class, lecture and lab meetings. They are fully responsible for all content presented to them. Excused absences must be requested prior to the class meeting time and must be validated by the instructor. Valid excuses include illness, doctor’s instruction, notice of death in family, religious obligations and other special circumstances. Students must email or call the instructor in the case of an absence. The student is responsible for obtaining class information after an absence. 

Business casual dress is required for the classroom and scrubs or business casual required for clinical assignments. Caribbean blue scrubs are required for all practicum and fieldwork experiences that occur at Rush University Medical Center. On clinical placements outside of Rush, students will be required to follow each site’s dress code.   

Students enrolled in the OTD program at Rush University are expected to have the skills necessary to function as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy student in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical/fieldwork settings. The technical standards required of all students enrolled in the OTD program can be found in the technical standards section. 

Graduation Requirements

Once admitted to the Occupational Therapy program, students embark on a journey that entails the accumulation of 107 term hours for graduation. In order to graduate and have the Occupational Therapy Doctorate conferred, students must meet the following:

  • Successfully complete all didactic coursework and fieldwork
  • Pass the Department of Occupational Therapy competency exam
  • Successfully complete all requirements of the individual doctoral experience and capstone project
  • Pass the Rush University Interprofessional Patient Care Teams course (IPE 502)
  • Complete a minimum of 16 contact hours of approved professional or community service
  • Complete implicit bias training

In order to be eligible to take the registration exam administered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists, students must have completed all graduation requirements as documented in official transcripts from Rush University. Students must complete all program requirements within 45 months from the time they begin the program. Students will have 15 months to complete Level II fieldwork after the final day of Semester 5 of the curriculum and 12 months to complete the doctoral experience/project after the last day of the final Level II fieldwork.  Any student who expects to go beyond this timeframe must request an exception to the policy in writing to the program director.

Scholarly Activities

Members of the department are increasingly involved in research projects in occupational therapy. Students participate in one of a variety of Rush academics, faculty-supervised research projects, which may be carried out in one of Rush University Medical Center’s occupational therapy clinics, other health care facilities, or community organizations. Students are required to formally present their research projects to their research adviser, as well as submit for presentation at local, state and national conferences, and/or publication in a professional journal identified by the faculty research adviser.

Students are also required to independently complete a capstone project that will advance the knowledge of occupational therapy. A plan for dissemination of the project through presentation or publication is required.

Professional Service Activities

Our faculty are outstanding practitioners/teachers/investigators involved in widely recognized professional and scholarly activities. They provide a full range of assessment and therapeutic services for a variety of populations. Within the Medical Center there are more than 30 dedicated occupational therapy practitioners working with pediatric, adult and geriatric patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

In addition, faculty and clinicians are committed to serving with professional and community organizations. Students participate with faculty and clinicians in health fairs and service activities throughout the year. Students have an opportunity to join the Student Occupational Therapy Association, a service-based organization.

Technology: Required Software/Online Tools

Technology:  Required Software/Online Tools

My Apps: myapps.rush.edu

Students are recommended to use My Apps, which is a virtual desktop where Office software, Rush email and secure storage is provided. Visit rushuportal.learning.rush.edu/faq for more information about the My Apps virtual environment. Students are also able to log into RULearning from MyApps.

Currently the university is transitioning from Blackboard Learning Management System to Canvas. Students may have classes in either learning management system or both throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.

Canvas Login Page: Students can log-in to Canvas at https://rushuniversity.instructure.com/  

Rush University Portal: Students can log-in to the Rush University Portal through www.rushu.rush.edu/faculty-and-staff  From this site students can access Canvas and Blackboard, as well as get financial and financial aid information.

Computer Requirements:  Students should have computers with audio/visual capabilities (including the ability to record presentation assignments) and computers should support learning management tools including but not limited to Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor, Panapto and ExamSoft.

Microsoft Office Suite: Word, Excel and PowerPoint: If you do not already have the Microsoft Office software, you can access the suite through My Apps or download a copy of the Microsoft Office suite at a reduced cost for Windows or Mac users: rush.onthehub.com

Internet Browsers: Students should have access to more than one browser, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari. All browsers should be the most up-to-date version available.

Internet Requirements: Students must have access to a high-speed internet connection when working off campus.

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Students should have access to the most up-to-date Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Occupational Therapy (OTD): Technical Standards

Rush University is committed to diversity and to attracting and educating students who will make the population of health care professionals representative of the national population.

Our core values-I CARE (innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence)-translate into our work with all students, including those with disabilities. Rush actively collaborates with students to develop innovative ways to ensure accessibility and creates a respectful, accountable culture through our confidential and specialized disability support. Rush is committed to excellence in accessibility; we encourage students with disabilities to disclose and seek accommodations.

The following technical functions are required of all students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy program:

Acquire Information

  • Acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in courses, such as lecture, group and physical demonstrations
  • Acquire information from written documents and computer systems (e.g., literature searches and data retrieval)
  • Identify information presented in accessible images from paper, slides, videos with audio description and transparencies
  •  Recognize and assess patient changes in mood, activity, cognition, verbal and non-verbal communication

Use and Interpret

  • Use and interpret information from assessment techniques/maneuvers
  • Use and interpret information related to physiologic phenomena generated from diagnostic tools


  • Possess psychomotor skills necessary to provide or assist in holistic occupational therapy care and perform or assist with procedures and treatments
  • Practice in a safe manner and appropriately provide occupational therapy care and assessment in emergencies and life support procedures, and perform universal precautions against contamination


  • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families
  • Communicate effectively with faculty, preceptors and all members of the health care team during practicum and other learning experiences
  • Accurately elicit information, including a medical history and other information to adequately and effectively evaluate a population’s, client’s or patient’s condition

Intellectual Ability

  • Measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize data related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients and populations
  • Exercise proper judgment and complete responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner according to the occupational therapy role
  • Synthesize information, problem-solve and think critically to judge the most appropriate theory, assessment or treatment strategy


  • Maintain mature, sensitive, effective relationships with clients/patients, families, students, faculty, staff, preceptors and other professionals under all circumstances
  • Exercise skills of diplomacy to advocate for patients in need
  • Possess emotional stability to function under stress and adapt to rapidly changing environments inherent to the classroom and practice settings


  • Demonstrate concern for others
  • Integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities
  • Demonstrate intent and desire to follow the Rush University and Occupational Therapy code of ethics


The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. Students who, after review of the technical standards, determine that they require reasonable accommodation to fully engage in the program should contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services to confidentially discuss their accommodations needs. Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to create and implement the accommodations. Accommodations are never retroactive; therefore, timely requests are essential and encouraged. To learn more about accommodations at Rush University please contact:


Marie Lusk, MBA, MSW, LSW

Director, Office of Student Accessibility Services

Rush University

600 S. Paulina St. AAC 901

Chicago, IL 60612    

(773) 942-5237




Occupational Therapy (OTD): Academic Policies

Academic Progression

 Students will progress through the program following the curriculum outline provided.

The faculty reserves the right to dismiss any student whose conduct, health or performance demonstrates lack of fitness for continuance in a health profession as identified by the faculty member and the Rush University Code of Conduct. Any such student not voluntarily withdrawing will be dismissed from the University. Only grades of A, B, C or P may fulfill degree requirements in all non-elective courses listed in the curriculum outline.

Students will be considered in good standing at Rush University unless placed on academic probation. Academic probation is assigned to any student who earns a term grade-point average of 2.99 and below. Full-time students placed on probation must earn a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or above by the end of the next term. Students who fail to meet minimum cumulative GPA requirements within the time frame specified above will be automatically dismissed from the program.

Students placed on academic probation for the first time must meet with their adviser and establish an action plan prior to the beginning of the next term. Students placed on probation a second time must petition and meet with the Student Performance and Academic Review Committee, or SPARC, and provide an action plan that is acceptable to SPARC in order to continue in the program. The student will also be responsible to meet on a regular basis with their adviser to monitor the progress of the aforementioned action plan’s implementation. A student who is placed on probation for a third time for didactic course work will automatically be dismissed from the program. 

A student receiving a grade D, F, N, WF or WN in a required course must repeat the course at the next academic offering and earn at least a B (or Pass for pass-no-pass courses) to remain in the program. Only one D, F, N or WN is allowed for the entire program. If a student receives a second D, F, N, WF or WN at any other time in the program, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Students must pass the occupational therapy competency exam (OCC 820 Capstone Competencies) prior to beginning the Independent Doctoral Experience course. Students who do not pass the exam will need to repeat the course. Completion of the doctoral experience and doctoral capstone project will be delayed.

Occupational Therapy (OTD): Curriculum

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Program Total: 107 Credit Hours

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